President of Colombia vows to block mining projects that threaten water sources

The Quebradona copper-gold project. (Image courtesy of Integral Consulting Engineers)

Colombia’s president Gustavo Petro said on Saturday his government will block mining projects that threaten water sources.

On a visit to Jerico, the president said that mining projects are located above aquifers that supply a population of 10,000 inhabitants.

He said his government will block those mining projects, indicating it will not allow AngloGold Ashanti’s Quebradona copper-gold project to advance.

“We will stop mining projects that put water at risk. Jerico will be an agricultural and ecological district,” said president Petro.

AngloGold Ashanti currently has three greenfields projects in Colombia. Quebradona and Gramalote, in the department of Antioquia, are at various stages of permitting and feasibility study, and La Colosa, in the department of Tolima, is presently under force majeure.

Quebradona is expected to treat 6.2Mt annually to produce 3 billion pounds of copper, 1.5Moz of gold and 21Moz of silver over a potential 23-year life.

Colombia’s environmental agency (ANLA) decided to archive the company’s environmental licence application relating to Quebradona. AngloGold Ashanti has filed an appeal seeking to secure further details.

On Twitter, AngloGold said that Quebradona does not put the territory’s water at risk and can coexist in harmony with the development of an agricultural and ecological district.

“We will seek to have conversations with the environmental authorities to jointly review the existing information on the water resource and continue advancing with the studies that are required by law,” the company said in a statement.